With the NHL returning on August 1, the action is starting to pick up on gambling sites around the world. Lines are going up on who is going to win, in how many games, and so forth. Sports Interaction has added some juice to the gambling component. Along with the series prices and props, all eight series’ have top point scorer bets as well as head-to-head matchups with a wager of “who will score more points in the series? Player A or player B.” We here at Last Word on Hockey will be looking at all eight 2020 Stanley Cup qualifying round matchups from a betting perspective. Today we will be looking at the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets and where you can make your money.
Qualifying Round Matchup: Toronto Maple Leafs v. Columbus Blue Jackets
With a contrast in playing styles, this is one of the more intriguing matchups in the qualifying round. Toronto plays a more run and gun style, while Columbus plays a more defensive style, which gives this young Maple Leafs team fits. On paper, the Maple Leafs should win this series against the Blue Jackets. However, they do not play the game on paper, they play it on ice. Even with Columbus being a massive underdog, they have a chance to pull the upset. Just look at last year’s playoffs when Columbus swept the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning.
While the Maple Leafs have the talent on offence with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander, and others, they still need to get over the hump over winning. And while the Blue Jackets may not have the offence the Maple Leafs do, they can play defence and that’s is what wins in the playoffs. Even with Columbus getting healthy and a tricky opponent, I see Toronto winning the series in five games.
Top Point Scorer
Matthews (+200) is the favourite to lead this best of five series in scoring. Following Matthews are his teammates Marner (+250) Tavares (+375) and Nylander (+650) are next in line. After the four Maple Leafs players, you will find the first Blue Jackets player, Pierre-Luc Dubois at +850.
Auston Matthews +200
While it is not always wise to go with the favourite, Matthews is the smart play. Not to mention he is a sneaky good play to lead the entire qualifying round in scoring. Matthews led the Maple Leafs in scoring last season, so there is a good shot he does again. He is only getting better each year in the playoffs, plus he plays on one of the best power-play units in the league. Matthews will have his fair share of points.
Cam Atkinson +1200
Cam Atkinson is a solid play here if you are looking at Blue Jackets options. Atkinson was fourth in scoring last season in the playoffs and has the ability to go on a tear in a short series. Atkinson has something to prove after a sub-par year.
Zach Hyman +1800
Zach Hyman is a sneaky good play if you are looking for value. He knows how to get in the dirty areas for guys like Matthews and Marner. That is exactly what you want from your players this time of year. Many people look at Hyman as more of a grinder and not a point leader with the talent in front of him on offence. However, don’t sleep on him.
Not So Fast
William Nylander +650
Of the four Maple Leafs players, Nylander is the one you want to stay away from. While he had a better season, do not expect Nylander to produce the same in a short series, especially based on his history in the playoffs.
Oliver Bjorkstrand +1200
Another guy to stay away from is Oliver Bjorkstrand at +1200. Last year during 10 games, Bjorkstrand only had three points. If you think he will produce more than that then think again.
The head-to-head matchups can be tough, especially with a draw option lurking. I’d say to bet any draws at your own risk, but to also look at doubling down on the above smart plays. Yes, that means Matthews and Hyman.
Auston Matthews over Mitch Marner +120
As previously mentioned Matthews has been getting better each year in the playoffs, and that’s not to discount his teammate Mitch Marner. Both players are gifted, but recently, it has been Matthews stealing the thunder especially with his performance in the playoffs.
John Tavares over Pierre-Luc Dubois -130
It is no surprise John Tavares is a heavy favourite over Pierre Luc Dubois at -130. Tavares has more of a track record in the playoffs than Dubois does. If it wasn’t for Matthews last season, Tavares would have led the Maple Leafs in scoring. If there was ever such thing as a lock, it would be this head-to-head matchup.
Zach Hyman over Oliver Bjorkstrand +135
As mentioned before, Hyman is a sneaky good play here playing on a line with either Matthews or Marner. If Columbus focuses their attention to much on Matthews and Marner, a guy like Hyman can hurt you. Columbus does not have much offence, and Bjorkstrand is too hot and cold for you to take him over a guy like Hyman.
Out of all eight 2020 Stanley Cup qualifying round series, there is a lot of contrast of styles. The scoring comes from the offence with the Maple Leafs, while most of the scoring comes from the Columbus defence. As for my official plays (all half of a unit), I’m rolling with Matthews to lead the series in scoring at +200 as well as to outscore Marner at +120. Also, taking Tavares at -130 to outscore his opponent. And my final prop is Hyman +135 to win his matchup.
Also, I like the Toronto Maple Leafs money line at -194, but in five games at +160.
The choice is yours and yours alone. But we are here to guide through this difficult process. Again this is for entertainment purposes only. Nothing guaranteed, and please enjoy responsibly.
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